Saturday, May 26, 2007

How to Gift Your Children or Grandchildren

I was listening to NPR Weekend Edition Saturday and I heard the saxophonist, Joshua Redman, playing some songs and talking about his father, tenor saxophinist, Dewey Redman. Dewey came to play at a recent recording session with Joshua. When they were done, Dewey asked to play a song on his own, without Joshua. Since it was Joshua's album, it was a strange request. But Joshua said OK and left to get some coffee. When he returneed, his father was done. It only took one take and the name of the song was "GJ".

Joshua and his wife had recently had a baby, and this song was a gift to Dewey's grandson, Jaden. Dewey died shortly after the recording. This beautiful, soulful song will be a lasting legacy to his grandson. Jaden will grow up without knowing his grandfather, but he will have this very special gift, this song, written and performed just for him by this great Jazz musician.

After listening to this report, I started thinking about gifts we give to our children and our grandchildren. We want to be sure they have the best clothes, toys, books, furniture. Maybe one special toy or one special book will remain with them as they grow, but mostly they will grow out of the things we give them, unless we truly give them something of ourselves.

Who are you? What is special about you? What do you love to do? Believe in? Support? What kind of gift can you give to your children or grandchildren that says: "This is me. This is how I feel about you. This is what I want you to remember about me."?

Perhaps it will be a handmade quilt or doll house, a story you write, a picture you paint, a special memento from your own parents you pass on, a camping trip, an afternoon spent fishing, a walk in the woods. Whatever it is, I urge you to think about what you want your children to know about you or your grandchildren to remember about you. Give them gifts that tell them something about who you are, what you know, what you love.

Give them memories in the here and now. Today may be all we ever "have", but our todays are built upon the days that came before.

Read more of Saralee Sky's articles in Nutsense, her online newsletter devoted to parenting and located on her web site:

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Connection Between Pain and Anger

When I hurt myself accidentally (bump my head on an open cabinet door, stub my toe, bump my shin on a sharp corner), as soon as I feel the pain I also feel a wave of anger wash through me. I am furious at the object that hurt me and also at myself for being so careless.

When my grandson falls and hurts himself doing something I warned him not to do, my first reaction/emotion is also one of anger. He needs comforting and a bandaid and I force myself to give these things, but I am also angry at him and I cannot stop myself for telling him that I told him this would happen.

He has just learned a valuable lesson on his own. The consequences of his actions are clear. I do not need to ram it home. If I could just wait until later, when he is all better and calm, I could then say in a kinder tone of voice, "Now do you see why I didn't want you to run so fast on the sidewalk in those shoes?"

So what is it that links anger to pain so intensely for me? A past life experience? A childhood experience no longer conscious, but lurking in my subconscious, ready to leap out at the first painful opportunity? I do not yet know. I just know it is an inevitable process. If I can be still for a minute or so after I hurt myself, the anger will wash through me and dissipate. I know this, but I cannot always resist smacking the cupboard door or the offending piece of furniture, often resulting in more pain. At least this action usually brings me to my senses.

Read more of Saralee Sky's articles in her online newsletter, Nutsense, on her web site:

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Children's Art - More Than It Seems

Recently I had a birthday. And a big birthday party! Two of my grandchildren were there, as well as other family and friends.

It was a rainy day, but in the evening, the sun shot through the clouds and a beautiful double rainbow appeared. I ran to get Jordan, my almost four year old grandson. I held him in my arms on the back deck while we looked at the arc of the rainbows.

This experience must have made a deep impression on Jordan. A few weeks later, he started drawing recognizable shapes. He drew a large headed person in the middle of the page, with a small circle at the top left and a backward "C" next to the circle. Then he drew a big line around the sides and top of the picture.

"Who is this person, Jordan?" I asked.

"Nana!" he said.

"And what is this circle?"

"That's the sun and the moon," he said, pointing to the small circle and the backward C. "And this is the rainbow from Nana's birthday." He pointed to the large rainbow-like line around the sides and top of the picture.

Now all of his pictures include the rainbow as well as the sun and moon. Sometimes he draws more people than just me, but always there is that rainbow, that promise. Children often include what they are thinking about or what's important to them in their art. It's a portal to their inner life. Pay attention!

You can read Saralee Sky's articles on parenting in her online newsletter, Nutsense, on

Friday, May 11, 2007

Why Pro-Choice is also Pro-Life

I had a dog who was half Golden Retriever and half Irish Setter named Lessa. We bred her with another Golden and she had a LOT of puppies - 14 to be exact.

She would allow 12 of them to nurse, but she would gently nose out of the way two of the puppies when they tried to push their way in to nurse. I watched her do this and would try and help the puppies find a tit as one of the other pups finished. Again, Lessa would gently nose these same two puppies out of the way. As hard as it was to watch this process, I realized that Lessa was doing what was best for her own body and the rest of the pups. She could only support and nourish 12 puppies and that was what she was going to do.

When a human woman gets pregnant, she must also make the decison about whether she is able to support and nourish this new life growing inside her. This can be a very hard - even harsh - decision, but it is what nature has given to the female of each species to do. We as women have the power to decide life or death for our unborn children. As hard as this is for some men and even some women to accept, this is our dharma, our path, our right.

To exercise our right to choose is to be pro-life. We are embracing our life as a woman as a womb-man. The woman that can nurture and sustain life is also the one who must be able to choose whether she is able to do so when the pregnancy occurs.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The way children learn a language.

My three year old grandson wanted to surprise me with something he was making out of blocks. He didn't want me to look at his creation until it was done, so he said to me,"Don't see at it."

I started thinking about his sentence construct. We don't usually "see at" something, we "look at" something. But was his sentence/grammar wrong? I guess so, but he was putting together two different ideas: he didn't want me to see what he was doing and he must have heard the term "look at" somewhere. He combined the two.

I chose not to correct him, but simply covered my eyes until he told me I could look - or see. I have learned that just by talking correctly to him he will learn by my example, rather than by constantly correcting him.

I read somewhere that children learn and store language in a different part of their brains when they are very young than when they are older. This explains why it is so hard to learn a new language as we grow. It is fun to watch him learn how to talk.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Some thoughts on Mother's Day and birthdays

I have always thought that the gifting procedure for Mother's Day and for birthdays should be reversed. In other words, on Mother's Day, I should be giving my children a gift to honor the fact that they made me a mother. And on my children's birthdays, they should be giving ME a gift to honor the fact that I gave birth to them and thus made it possible for them to actually have a birthday.

The gift of life is a gift that can never be truly gifted, truly understood, truly appreciated. Mothers hold a baby's life in their bodies and then in their hands. Slowly the child grows up and away from their mother and the letting go is also a precious gift.

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